The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) leaders are detached from the masses. A clear sign of this is a where decisions made bring mixed reactions and signals from the party activists on the ground who revert to accusing each other of being bootlickers and supporting everything that the leadership does and counter accusations of being trouble makers for questioning the rationale, democratic processes and intentions of decisions made. This is hurting the UDC to a point where those defecting to the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) continue to cite these as just some of the examples that has made them jump ship. They further insinuate that the UDC leadership has no idea about the needs of the people. When foot soldiers themselves, the activists; are feeling this pinch, then surely the ordinary Motswana who has pinned his hopes on the opposition is as good as dead. On numerous occasions UDC leaders, being reactive to these uncomfortable standoffs of their followers; have taken to public platforms such as radios and social sites to try rectifying the situation and calling for calm. In most cases, they come when the damage has already been done. The UDC leaders are somehow only able to act when wounds of divisions between their own people are painfully visible. The argument can safely be that they feel the pain way after their followers have felt it. It should be the other way round. But it can only be so, when the leaders are aware of what is happening in their structures. Without structures, it shall continue to be so. The active participation of party members can only be genuinely measured at the level of party structures; cells, wards and constituencies. In the absence of these structures, it is; every man for himself and God for us all.
The UDC is a political party literally running without structures. The UDC leaders are busy enjoying the lavish style that comes with being a Member of Parliament and have literally abandoned their constituencies. The issues they raise in Parliament are far away from the needs of their constituents. The African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa stands as an example. The ANC leaders, whist in exile allegedly did not have control of the ANC structures inside South Africa. They enjoyed the economic comforts provided by hosts’ countries such as Ethiopia, Zambia and the United Kingdom so much that their will to continue the struggle effectively was simply washed away. Their children were sponsored through scholarships to the best schools and their relatives found good jobs in host countries. They simply could not imagine life without all these goodies yet such were brought about by the fact that they were leaders of a struggle. The irony of it all was that if the struggle was to come to an end, as it ultimately did, they will lose and they ultimately did; the freebies and comforts of being leaders of the struggle as they will now had to answer to the people. We must ask the leaders of the UDC to come back from exile and be with the people. UDC is behaving like a party in power, yet it is so far away from the finishing line. The people’s hopes are speedily becoming an illusion. The UDC leaders are in comfort of being seen as messiahs and ‘liberators’ that they have entered a mode of a fear of getting into power. Getting into power will shift the blame of country problems to them. It is simple to look at the one occupying a seat of power and shouting as loud as possible that they are not performing. You do so because the frustrated masses, either by ignorance or total lack of knowing and understanding are easily swayed to blame the ruling party of any challenge that the government of the day comes across. In all these instances, we all deliberately and by pure design forget that government is not the ruling party.
Government is the legislature, judiciary and the executive. In the case of Botswana, the executive, being the cabinet, comprises of only members of the ruling party. I have discussed this matter here that this is not by the dictates of the constitution. The constitution does not prohibit Members of Parliament from the opposition from being appointed to cabinet. The Botswana Democratic Party has since it attained the presidency of the Republic of Botswana 50 years ago; opted to treat this presidential prerogative as a written constitutional law. The people of Botswana have also come to accept it as some form of a law. Well, back to the issue at hand, the executive is just a branch of Government. The judiciary is not appointed along political lines. Well, at least on paper. But the judiciary for sure is prohibited by the constitution to be actively involved in politics thus it is safe to say they are apolitical. There have though been instances where some were alleged to be sympathisers of certain political parties. Some Magistrates have been associated with both the ruling party and the opposition. One can take solace in the fact that both the opposition and the ruling party are equally alleged beneficiaries of these sympathies. The legislature, which is the Parliament, comprises of 19 members of the opposition. The legislative, is a branch of Government and thus the opposition is the Government just like the ruling party. A clear example of this is at local Government level where in many localities, the opposition hold leadership of councils through mayoral posts which in other areas, non-urban, are referred to as council chairpersons.
But despite all these, the UDC leaders who form the Government of Botswana, have abdicated their responsibilities as Members of Parliament. They either do not attend Parliament sessions or simply enter parliamentary doors for a glass of cold water and registering oneself for daily allowance. Their contribution to national debates is non-existent unless the issue at hand is about getting their salaries increased. They have forgotten the needs of the people. Comrades shall remember the people only when the Election Day looms. They shall then remember that their economic comforts are being provided for through the votes of the poor, the unemployed youth, the marginalised groups and the workers who make the economy of Botswana. The people are not defecting for any other reason except that the UDC leaders are nowhere to be seen. They have literally gone numb. Comrades are in exile and when they return, the people would have found new leaders. In sad scenarios, as it continues to happen, the people would have found new political homes.
Simon Gabathuse is available at:
Facebook: Simon Gabathuse|